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Leadership has been the goal for Tennessee QB Nico Iamaleava during Vols’ spring camp

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Tennessee’s spring practice will come to a close on Saturday. Fundamentals were fine tuned. Schemes were surmised. However, there is no questioning that this spring practice was all about Nico Iamaleava.

Now, anyone with a computer and the ability to Google can see Iamaleava can throw the ball all over the yard, from multiple arm angles and has the physical ability that makes scouts drool, etc., etc., etc. Enter your own overused metaphor here.

The question about Iamaleava was never about his physical ability. The question about any teenager was whether or not he was ready to become a star before he had really done much, could he command his teammates’ respect and lead the Vols the way they needed him to?

“I know what I came here to do, and it’s my job to go get that done,” Iamaleava said to open spring camp.

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Getting the job done means being the leader that Hendon Hooker was in 2022 when no Tennessee team got punked (other than the fiasco at South Carolina) and the entire offense knew where the buck stopped. I’m not knocking Joe Milton III for being a likeable leader, but I’d prefer a leader that really didn’t care if he was liked or not. Do you think Gen. Neyland said, “Well, this could really rankle the opposition?” I’m guessing not.

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So that’s kind of Milton. His leadership style needed another fire-and-brimstone companion that could make sure that every player knew that an average practice wasn’t good enough. Hooker was comfortable relaying that message. Was Milton? Will Iamaleava be that?

“I have been trying to work on being more vocal for the guys, speaking up when I need to,” Iamaleava said. “I think just being myself out there, hanging out with the guys and making sure we are getting our business done. I’ve grown more in the vocal aspect of it, just being louder for the guys is what I’ve really been trying to work on.”

Here would be my advice to Iamaleava. First, be who you are. Don’t try to be anything but yourself. However, your leaderships skills have been well chronicled. It’s time to showcase those with summer workouts on the docket. Everyone knows you can throw a football.

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